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SOUTHERN STANDARD MCMINNVILLE. TENNESSEE.-
SPEAKERS OF THE PAST.
Pen-Pictures of the Men Who Have
Used the Gavel.
There Imve hern thirty-one Speak
ers for lifty-one Congresses, Hays a
writer in the New York Pre;.
Next to the President, tho Speaker
of the House of Representatives lias,
perhaps, more power than any other
oflh'er of the (Jovernment. Hence
the office, is sought after as a great
prize. Yet it is douhtful if any of
the present generation can recall the
names of the Speakers even thirty
years ago. Those whose names are
conspicuous, even now, have gener
ally won distinction in other depart
ments. For example, Rlaine is now
known as Senator and Cabinet offi
cer more than as Speaker. Hut the
Speakership is a stepping stone to
more conspicuous, hut not to more
influential posts. Yet the fact re
mains that only one Speaker of the
House has ever reached the Presiden
cy, and even tins Speaker was so lit
tle known that when he was nomi
nated for the Presidency he was met
with the campaign cry, "Who is
James K. Polk?" On the other
hand, the two most marked men who
have heen Speakers Henry Clay
and James (J. P.laine were unsuc
ce-isful candidates for the Presidency.
The contest now on for the Speak
ership in the next House recalls the
States and sections that have heen
previously represented. The honors
are exactly oven. When Tom Reed
retired from the Speakership last
March the South and North had held
that office for fifty-one years each.
Kentucky heads the list with 22
years; next Virginia 13 years;
Pennsylania, 11; Massachusetts, 10;
Indiana, 9; Maine, 8; North Caroli
na and New Jersey, each 6 ; Tennes
see 5 ; New York and South Caroli
na, 3 each ; Connecticut, Georgia and
Ohio, 2 years each. The odd num
bers here are due to death or resigna
tion and elections to fill vacancies.
Only one Speaker has died in office,
and only two have resigned, Henry
Clay and Andrew Stevenson of Vir
ginia. Frederick A.C.Muhlenberg,of Penn
sylvania, was Speaker of First Con
gress, which met 1780. He was the
son of one of the founders of the
American Lutheran Church. The
Speaker had himself been a Luther
an clergymen, but he left the minis
try in 1779 and entered politics. lie
was a member of the Continental
Congress. He served during the first
four Congresses, being Speaker of the
First and Third. He was only 39
years of age at the time of the first
Jonathan Trumbull, of Connecticut,
an old Revolutionary 'War officer,
was the second Speaker. lie served
in tho First, Second and Third Con
gressses, and was afterward United
States Senator, and then Governor of
Connecticut eleven terms and died in
office in 1809. Trumbull and Muhlen
berg were both federalists.
The Speaker of the Fourth and
Fifth Congress was Jonathan Dayton,
of New Jersey. He also had been an
officer during the Revolution and
afterward became a United States
Theodore Sedgwick, of Massachu
setts presided over the Sixth Congress,
1779-1801. He also had a soldier rec
ord, had been a member of the Con
tinental Congress and a Judge of the
Superior Court of Massachusetts.
The South first secured the Speaker
ship with the Seventh Congress in
the person of Nathaniel Macon, of
North Carolina. Macon was re-elected
-Speaker in the two following Con
gresses. Altogether he served in the
House and the Senate thirty-seven
years. His popularity va9 so great
in his State that he was usually chos
en without opposition, until, in 1829,
he declined to be renominated. He
wa9 perhaps the most distinguished
man ever sent to Washington from
North Carolina, and was the first dis
tinctive and pronounced Democrat
who held the Speakership.
The Tenth and Eleventh Congres
ses elected Joseph Varnum, of Mas
sachusetts. He had been a General
in the Revolution and had served
twelve years in the Senate.
Then came Henry Clay with the
Twelfth Congress, the most conspic
uous Speaker of them all, and the one
who held the office for tho greatest
length of time. He was first chosen
in 1 s 1 1 and was elected for five terms
-uccessively, and, after two years, for
another term. During his service he
resigned twice; first to be one of the
Commissioners to make peace with
Kngland; second, in on account
of his private affairs. He was again
elected in 1S2:, during which term he
ran first for the Presidency, when he
ran first for
fed hv Andrew Jackson.
He made other .attempt to become
President in 1832 and 1811, only to be
each time defeated. Clay was in
public lite forty-six years after first
entering Congress, part of the time a
Senator and part of the time as Sec
retary of State under John Quincy
When Mr. Clay first resigned the
Speakership he was succeeded by
Langdon Cheves, of South Carolina,
and his unexpired term in the Six
teenth Congress was filled by John
W. Taylor, of New York.
Philip P. Rarhour, of Virginia, was
the Speaker of the Seventeenth Con
John M. Taylor, of New York, was
Speaker of the Sixteenth Congress,
succeeding Mr. Clay.
The Twentieth, Twenty-first,
Twenty-second, and part of the
Twenty-third Congresses were presid
ed over by Andrew Stevenson, of
Virginia. Mr. Stevenson resigned
to becomo Minister to Knglane. John
Bell, ol Tennessee, succeeded him as
Speaker. Like Clay, Hell served in
both branches of Congress, was a
member of the Cabinet (Secretary of
War under Harrison) and was an un
successful candidate for the Presiden
James K, Polk, of Tennessee, was
the thirteenth Speaker, presiding
over the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-
fifth Congresses. This Speaker, with
tho unlucky "thirteen" against him,
was the only one who became presi
ident. Mr. Polk was also an excep
tion in this he declined during his
term of office renomination for the
The career of R. M. T. Hunter, of
Virginia, the next Speaker of the
House (1839-1841), was unlucky.
While he was Speaker his name was
often mentioned in connection with
the Presidency. As soon as it be
came certain that the Southern States
would secede, Hunter was mentioned
as the most suitable leader for the
new Confedracy. Jeff Davis, how
ever secured the unhappy prize, and
Hunter had to content himself with
a Cabinet position under Davis. Af
ter the war he was pushed aside by
younger and more active men, and
he became so much a part of a dead
question that when he was appointed
to a Federal office in Virginia in 1885
the people outside of Virgsnia were
surprised to learn that he was still
alive, ne was resurrected from ob
scurity by Grover Cleveland, who
was not yet born when Hunter was
Speaker and a Presidential aspirant
already in the Democratic party.
Another pathetic career was that of
John White, of Kentncky, the Speak
er of the Twenty-seventh Congress.
White retired from the Speakership
in 1843, and two years later, while a
circuit judge in Kentucky, he com
mitted suicide, being the only one of
the Speakers to end his own life.
In the Twenty-eighth Congress,
the Speakership went to Virginia
again. John W. Jones was elected,
lie was soon forgotten. At his old
estate now, near Drewry's Blufi, in
Virginia, in the garret of the little
brick office his books lie in confused
heaps, worm eaten and yellow with
neglect and age.
John W. Davis, of Indiana was the
Speaker of the Twenty-ninth Con
gress. This was the first time the
Speakership had gone so far West.
The Thirtieth Congress was pre
sided over by Robert C. Winthrop, of
Massachusetts, the oldest ex-Speaker
now living. Winthrop was a pupil
of Daniel Webster, and served a part
of one of Webster's terms in the Sen
ate. But for forty years he has been
for lhe most part out of politics.
While, in political life he was a
Whig, and became a republican at
the birth of that parly. In late
years Mr. Winthrop has been active
in educational and benevolent move
ments, and his whole life has been
one of great honor and credit.
Howell Cobb, 01 ueorgia, was
Speaker of the Thirty-first Congress,
1849-1851. The office went further
South in this election. Before enter
ing Congress Cobb had been Govern
or of Georgia, was Buchanan's Secre
tary of the Treasury, and afterward a
General of the Confederate army.
Tho Thirty-second and Thirty-third
Congresses had Linn Boyd, of Ken
tucky, for speaker.
With the assembling of the Thirty
fourth Congress, the first great pro
tracted battle for the Speakership
began. In this Congress several par
ties and factions of parties contend
ed for supremacy. There sere pro
slavery Whigs and anti-s'avery
men. Besides these were the Free
Soilcrs and Know Nothings. Tho
strruggle between these conflicting
elements raged in a most lGSEHjyay
from Dec. 3, 1S55, to Feb. 2, l."li.
The election of N. P. Banks was
brought about !v the union of nearlv
all the anti-slavery men, all the Free
Soilers and most of the Know Noth
ings. The union of these elements
was the first really practical and for
minable shape taken on by the Re
publican party. Banks had been
Governor of Massachusetts and serv
ed later as a General in the Union
army. In this contest over tho
Speakership--a contest in which the
issue was slavery the successful can
didate was from Massachusetts, while
the defeated candidate was from
South Carolina, being William Aiken
of that State.
In the Thirty-fifth Congress the
Speakership came again to tho Dem
ocrats. James L. Orr, of South Car
olina, was chosen Speaker, the only
full term ever held by that State.
Orr was Governor of South Carolina
just after the war.
There was again a sharp struggle
for the Speakership in tho Thirty
sixth Congress, 1859-1801. The Re
publicans controlled this Congress,
and attempted to elect John Sher
man Speaker. After two months they
succeeded in electing Win. Penning
ton, of New Jersey. With Penning
ton began a line of Republican
Speakers, which continued unbroken
When President Lincoln was
inaugurated in 18G1 he called the
Thirty-seventh Congress together in
special session on July 4, 1Si1. Gal-
usha A. Grow, of Pennsylvania,
was elected Speaker, and he is alive
at the age of GS.
Schuyler Colfax, of Indiana, was
Speaker of the Thirty-eighth, Thirty-
ninth and Fortieth Congresses, re
tiring from that office in 18G9 to be
come Vice President with Grant.
With the Forty-first Congress,
which assembled in December, 18G9,
we come to one of the most famous
Speakers in James G. Blaine. He
was Speaker six years and was suc
ceeded in the Forty-Fourth Congress
by Michael C. Kerr, of Indiana.
Mr. Kerr was the first Democsatic
Speaker to be elected after the war.
Kerr died before the end of his first
year in the chair "Sunset" Cox was
chosen Speaker pro tern, and served
until the National Democratic Con
vention which nominated Tilden
met in St. Louis in 1876. At that
time Cox was retired at the peremp
tory order of Boss Kelly, the Tam
many chief, and Milton Taylor
presided to the end of the session.
Samuel J. Randall was chosen at
the assembling of the second session
of the Forty-fourth Congress and
was re-elected in the two Congresses
following. Mr. Randall died in
When Garfield was elected in
1880 the House of Representatives
again came into the hands of the
Republicans. J. Warren Keifer, of
Ohio was chosen Speaker of the Forty-seventh
Congress. lie 19 the
least illustrious of the Republican
John G. Carlisle, of Kentucky
presided over the Forty-eighth
Forty-ninth and Fifiteth Congresses.
He was transferred to the Senate on
the death of J. B. Beck, and by a
coincidence based upon this unex
pected transfer he voted on the
Tariff bill the same year in both
house, leading the opposition in
Th Fifly-first Congress, which ex
pired March 4, was presided over by
Thomas B. Reed, of Maine ,in one of
the stormiest "sessions ever held in
the House of Representatives. This
Congress contained three ex-Speak
ers, Banks, Randall and Carlisle,
The present Congress has as a mem
ber only one ex-Speaker, Thomas B
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